DC Mayor Signs Marriage Equality Bill Into Law

by Admin

Pending conclusion of Congressional Review period, Washington, D.C. would join five states in recognizing marriage equality.

Washington - Today, Joe Solmonese, President of The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued this statement regarding DC Mayor Adrian Fenty's signing of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, granting marriage equality to same-sex couples in the nation's capital. Mayor Fenty signed the legislation earlier this morning at a ceremony alongside a diverse group of DC residents including faith leaders representing over 200 DC clergy supporting the legislation, members of the City Council, long-time neighborhood activists and DC residents.

"This legislation is an important and historic step towards equal dignity, equal respect and equal rights for same-sex couples here in our nation's capital, which also preserves the right of clergy and congregations to adhere to their faiths. The legislation the Council passed earlier this week, and Mayor Fenty signed into law today, reinforces the legal equality and religious freedoms to which all D.C. residents are entitled. The day is not too far off when same-sex couples in D.C. will be able to enjoy all the rights and responsibilities that come with civil marriage," said HRC President Joe Solmonese.

On Tuesday, the D.C. Council voted today 11 to 2 to give final approval to the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009. The vote recognizing same-sex marriage was the second in two weeks for the Council, which approved the bill in an initial vote on December 1, 2009 by the same margin. Since last July, D.C. law has recognized marriages by same-sex couples from other jurisdictions, including foreign countries. The new legislation would permit same-sex couples to marry in D.C. itself while ensuring that clergy and religious organizations would not be required to provide services, accommodations, facilities or goods for the solemnization of a same-sex marriage.

The law will take effect at the conclusion of a Congressional review period, which lasts for 30 legislative days following the Mayor's signature.

At this time, five states recognize marriage for same-sex couples under state law: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire (effective January 1, 2010). New York and the District of Columbia recognize marriages by same-sex couples legally entered into in another jurisdiction. Five states-California, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada-plus D.C. provide same-sex couples with access to the state level benefits and responsibilities of marriage, through either civil unions or domestic partnerships.

Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin provide same-sex couples with limited rights and benefits. California recognized marriage by same-sex couples between June and November of 2008, before a slim majority of voters approved Proposition 8, which purports to amend the state constitution to prohibit marriage equality. Couples married during that window remain married under California law, but all other same-sex couples can only receive a domestic partnership within the state. The state will recognize out of state same-sex marriages that occurred before November 5, 2008 as marriages and those that occurred on or after November 5, 2008 as domestic partnerships. The Prop. 8 vote has been challenged in federal court a decision is not expected any time soon.

Same-sex couples do not receive federal rights and responsibilities anywhere in the United States. To learn more about state by state legislation, visit: www.hrc.org/state-laws.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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